Grandfathers pp 147-164 | Cite as

Grandfathers in Australia. The Gendered Division of Grandparent Care

  • Briony HorsfallEmail author
  • Deborah Dempsey
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)


Older Australian men are becoming grandfathers at a time when social mores about fathering are encouraging father involvement in children’s lives. At the same time, Australian grandmothers continue to have more caring responsibilities for grandchildren, in keeping with Australia’s maternalist culture. The mixed-methodology research presented here found that a substantial proportion of Australian grandfathers report caring for grandchildren. However, similarly to comparisons between fathers and mothers, grandfathers do less of the labour associated with caring for children and are more satisfied with their leisure time than grandmothers. Qualitative interviews illustrate how grandfathers are cast in a supportive carer role alongside grandmothers, with more freedom to opt in and out of care. Nonetheless, the contributions of grandfathers as male role models and grandchildren’s playmates are highly valued.


Australia Grandparents Gender 



This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) project. HILDA was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this chapter, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either DSS or the Melbourne Institute.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swinburne University of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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